PJ Andrews to consider theme of race, religious experience in U.S. through lens of Bahá’í faith 


Three days after the Baha’is of the Chautauqua Area presented the first program of the 2024 Martha Root Lecture Series, the Baha’i faith will be represented in the Interfaith Lecture Series when PJ Andrews, who works in the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs, speaks at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy during a week on “Race and the American Religious Experience.”

“The discourse on race in America has re-surged into the national consciousness,” Andrews said in a 2019 episode of the Baha’i World News Service podcast. “So, it is really unavoidable to have a conversation about race in America. And we feel there is a lot to contribute from the Baha’i perspective.”

Andrews co-coordinates the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs’ collaboration with individuals, organizations, and agencies in the United States engaged in public discourses and policy advocacy directed toward racial justice and racial unity. Prior to his work there, he worked in ethical culture development for the Service Employees International Union; in government relations for national service programs with AmeriCorps; as a case manager for U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen; and supported the work of the International Teaching Centre at the World Center of the Bahá’í Faith in Haifa, Israel. 

Race unity has been a key tenet of the American Bahá’í community’s mission since `Abdu’l-Bahá, who served as the head of the Bahá’í faith from 1892 to his death in 1921, visited North America in 1912. During that visit, he admonished (Bahá’ís) to see no difference between black and white, to accept that all belong to one human race.”

In 2020, the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly of the United States issued a public statement on “Forging a Path to Racial Justice.” 

The statement, published in The Chicago Tribune on Juneteenth of that year, read in part that “to create a just society begins with recognition of the fundamental truth that humanity is one. But it is not enough simply to believe this in our hearts. It creates the moral imperative to act, and to view all aspects of our personal, social and institutional lives through the lens of justice.”

“In the culture of ‘othering’ in which we’re embedded, diversity can be seen as a source of weakness. But in truth diversity is a source of wealth,” Andrews said shortly after the statement was published. “Unity in diversity is something that strengthens us spiritually as a society.”

Tags : interfaith lecture previewMartha Root Lecture SeriesPJ AndrewsRace and the American Religious Experience.religionU.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs

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